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Hatha Yoga (“Forceful Yoga”): a major branch of yoga, developed by Goraksha and other adepts c. 1000 C.E., and emphasizing the physical aspects of the transformative path, notably postures (asana) and cleansing techniques (shodhana), but also breath control (pranayama)


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The Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre offers over 40 hatha yoga holidays each year.

We have week long courses during the Summer months from June to August, and also at Christmas, New Year and Easter.

We offer weekend courses in Hatha yoga and also other forms of yoga during the rest of the year.

Hatha yoga holidays in Ireland

The feeling of peace and serenity that one feels when one arrives at the centre brings one immediately into the present in a very heartfelt way.

The Burren Yoga and Meditation centres is one of the most beautiful centres to come to practice on a Hatha Yoga retreat.

Hatha yoga retreats in Ireland

What is Physical (Hatha) Yoga?

Nowadays in the West, when many people think about yoga, they think of physical yoga exercises or asanas. But this is only a small part of tantra yoga—practical, scientific teaching, the aim of which is spiritual growth.

The word yoga, as well as the word religion, means the union of the human soul with the Universal Soul, i.e., the union of human being with God. Although yoga is a product of Indian civilization and has influenced all religions of that land, it is a practical spiritual science that does not belong to any particular region or religion.

Although the aim of yoga is spiritual perfection, it encourages a balanced, all-around development of human potential. We should use all the resources given to us for effective spiritual growth. Therefore, yoga contains in itself specific teachings that lead to bodily health and emotional well-being; it assuredly leads to intellectual, creative, intuitive and spiritual unfoldment.

The yogi is a practical person. Therefore he does not consider his body an obstacle or a burden, a jail for his soul, which can be, even should be, neglected or rejected. Just the opposite, for a yogi the body is a temple of the Spirit, a temple which should be scrupulously maintained because, sooner or later, it will host the long-awaited Guest. So, as you might already suspect, this time we shall talk about one of the most important aspects of the spiritual path—physical yoga.

Hatha yoga is mostly yoga that prepares the body for the spiritual path via physical and breathing exercises, and asceticism. Hatha yoga is the most superficial component of yoga, the one that is preoccupied merely with the means to the means. It prepares and conditions the body so that the mind can practice meditation more or less without obstacles. Hatha yoga, as a main rather than an accessory practice, is quite a tiresome and roundabout way to enlightenment. Most yogis in India do not pay too much attention to it, and frequently completely ignore it. They think, why perfect the body if it is already working well?

Tell mo more about Hatha Yoga

The main component of hatha yoga, which has a special application to the spiritual path, and which we will discuss in more detail, is yoga postures, or, in Sanskrit, asanas.

On opur hatha yoga retreats, we introduce the hatha yoga postures to beginners in a clear easily accessible way, and we offer adjustments and deeper instruction to those already practicing hatha yoga.

The word asana means comfortable, stable pose. Asanas are exercises of a special kind. The form that they have taken is the result of a thousand years of experience: trial and error, experiments, and scrupulous observation. The yogis have discovered that certain positions of the body can give human beings qualities that they do not have or that are in deficit. Asanas are usually named in honor of their inventors (Matsyendra), certain bodily structures (a triangle), tools (a plow), birds (a peacock), or animals (a lion, e.g.) and reflect physical or psychological effects that these asanas have on a person. For instance, a snake pose makes the spine flexible; a frog pose helps the body to conserve energy and use much less food and water (like during hibernation); an action pose develops emotional and physical energy.

Yoga postures should not be confused with mere exercise, calisthenics, which help strengthen and develop muscles. Asanas are special positions of the body that strengthen, purify and balance the endocrine, nervous and circulatory systems. While asanas are rarely prescribed to treat illnesses, they surely have healing properties and definitely prevent diseases. Many healers use asanas and other hatha yoga methods to effectively treat chronic illnesses and emotional disorders. If you practice asanas regularly, your body will gradually achieve greater endurance, your spine will become more flexible, your body will come to its natural weight and rid itself of toxins, you will breathe more easily, you will gain energy, your circulation will improve, your blood pressure will normalize, you will have an easier time coping with stress, and you will have more pleasant thoughts and fewer negative emotions. And considering all this, your overall mood will improve—in other words, you will gain vibrant physical and emotional health.

The main application of asanas is the resolution of problems that appear on the path of meditation. Most of us, especially when we begin meditation practice, become surprised to what extent the mind is restless, unstable and full of various thoughts and desires. Emotions of anger, fear, hate and their derivatives torture us, while emotions of enchantment, infatuation and attachment (so-called love) and their derivatives delight us. Both kinds of emotions do not allow us to enter deep meditative states. Such mental disturbance happens due to the effect of mental modifications (vritti), which are trying to find external expression through the sensory organs and the nervous system (indriya), and therefore creating emotional confusion. Since vrittis are derivatives of endocrine glands, if you can regulate their (hormonal) secretions through asanas and other special yogic techniques, you will be able to regulate and control the emotions and the mind. Asanas squeeze and stretch glands, and thus invigorate and balance their secretions. As a result, endocrine defects are cured, and emotional and mental difficulties caused by these defects gradually disappear, without much effort and frustration on your part. Gradually the mind becomes calm and focused, i.e., ready for deep meditation.

Sooner or later an advanced sadhaka (spiritual aspirant or meditator) will experience an awakening of his or her usually dormant spiritual power (kundalini). This is the result of many years of conscientious meditation practice, and calls for major changes in the body and mind. The body needs to become stronger and more enduring, while at the same time capable of being more sensitive, aware and open, so that it will be able to tolerate both powerful and subtle currents of spiritual energy which are produced or released by meditation. Regular practice of certain asanas and other hatha yoga techniques helps maintain inner and outer vigor and purity that is necessary at such an advanced stage of spiritual development.

Practicing physical yoga is not difficult. By definition, asanas are bodily positions that are easy to hold comfortably. Asanas that are correctly prescribed for your specific constitution by an experienced (and well-trained) teacher should be easy and pleasant to practice. Regular practice will help you control your emotions and thus lead a more satisfying life. If you start yoga practice early in your life, it will dramatically reduce your risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other serious illnesses. The body readily responds to yoga postures. They are simple and should take only a few minutes a day. The reward, however, much exceeds invested efforts.

– Anatole

Hatha yoga courses


‘Asanas should be steady and comfortable.’

Having thoroughly explained the yamas and niyamas, Patanjali now moves on to the next limb of Raja Yoga, the asanas, or postures. This is the whole subdivision of Raja Yoga known as Hatha Yoga, which works directly with the prana and kundalini, the more subtle energy currents of the body. Hatha Yoga postures, always done in a specific order, massage the endocrine glands and releases energy blockages in the system so that a meditative state is brought about physically rather than through sitting and watching the mind. Hatha Yoga is the best practiced in conjunction with meditation for the ‘asanas’ are a vital aid, but not the end, on the path to ‘samadhi’.

It is said that the ‘asana’ should be steady and comfortable. Whether the posture is a simple cross-legged meditation position or part of a set of Hatha Yoga exercises, it is important that the practitioner not be strained. He should be given amount of time. Fidgeting and loss of concentration only waste energy. Just as in meditation, the mind and body must remain one-pointed.

Photos of hatha yoga postures

Facilities and photos of the Centre itself

Type of people who come on Hatha yoga holidays

Hatha yoga holidays